Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
We hide. Much of life itself seems to tell us that if it is broken, pretend it isn’t. If it isn’t pretty, put some makeup on it. If your hair is a mess, put a hat on. If you have some extra pounds on the waistline, wear loose fitting clothing. If you are hurting, put a smile on. So why on earth, in a culture that encourages hiding, would we encourage you to open up about your shortcomings? Why? Because we never get better through hiding.
Fundamentally, sin is a failure to love. It is a failure to love God and others (and ourselves). In my life, I have experienced much failure. Vulnerable moment: I have experienced sin from my earliest memories. Remember my dad I spoke about earlier? This is going to be hard to hear, but one of my earliest memories of him was a day where I was playing with my toy cars near the top of the staircase. My mom was yelling up the stairs to my father about something, and my father’s response was to rage down the hallway screaming. In a rampage, he directed his anger toward me and physically abused me since I was closest to him. I don’t remember all of the details—I was only four. It remains difficult to share this painful moment of my life. I tear up as I write this. But in my adulthood, my father confessed to me that this was one of his deepest regrets in life. I had already forgiven him, but I forgave him on a deeper level the day he shared this.
I have felt the effects of abuse, drug addiction, violence, lies, theft, shame, and loss in my life—much of this before I turned twenty. It is not hard for me to acknowledge that I have been sinned against and also that I am a sinner who desperately needs Jesus. Forgiveness is the only remedy—only the pure love of God could right the wrongs.
Jesus taught that there is a deep connection between our knowing we need forgiveness, receiving that forgiveness, and how well we love as a result. Remember the woman who wept at the feet of Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7? Jesus turned to the women and said to Simon, “You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:45–48, emphasis added).
You may wonder, I know I am a sinner. Why do I need to confess to another person? Why not just confess to God? You should absolutely confess to God! He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9). What we’re talking about here is not the forgiving nature of God, but rather one of how we heal. How do we become well and more whole? How do we deal with ongoing patterns of sin in our lives and what do we do with our tendency to doubt that we are truly forgiven and free of our sin?
You will not be publicly broadcasting your failures, just sharing them honestly with another person or two. In banding we’re agreeing with James 5:16 that healing often comes through confession to other people. It is both an act within community (horizontal) and an act of prayer (vertical).
Three very simple things happen in this:
There is freedom in being known, even being known in the messy and broken places. It is those places where the living water of God will release love and grace in and through you.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. I have been hurt. I have hurt others. I have been failed. And I have failed. Jesus, I place myself at your feet today in your tender mercy. Amen.
Consider sharing a moment in your life where grace become real for you, either in extending forgiveness or receiving it.
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